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Does flour go bad (Things you need to know about the pantry staple)

Flour seems like one of those pantry staples that might last forever. Trust me, I thought the same but then I learned the hard way that flour does go bad. 

To cut to the chase–yes, flour does go bad just like any other ingredients you stored in your kitchen. If you want to unlock other valuable information surrounding the powder, then take this comprehensive guide with you!

Here you won’t just learn if your flour has gone bad, you’ll also learn helpful tips about the common spoilage signs and the best ways to store flour. 

What is flour


Flour is a product of grinding wheat, corn, rice, nuts, or seeds until it resembles a powder-like appearance. 

It comes in different varieties, but a few common types are all-purpose flour, wheat flour, bread flour, and almond flour which is suitable for those who follow a strict gluten-free diet. 

The kitchen staple is a default ingredient in most baked goods such as bread, cakes, and pie crusts. 

Other flour varieties, like all-purpose flour, are good to use as a thickener for sauces, soups, and stews.

Does flour go bad

As mentioned, yes, flour does go bad. Store-bought flour usually has a “best-before,” “best-by,” or “better if used by,” on its container, which means the baking product is safe to use even if the best date has lapsed. 

If the “best-by” date has passed it doesn’t mean that you can’t use the flour. It just means that it may not be as fresh but you should check to make sure it hasn’t gone bad. Moreover, the shelf life of your flour depends on its variety and its storage condition.

Does flour expire

Yes, flour has its expiration date and does go rancid like any other baking product. According to, flour’s shelf life changes depending on what type it is and how it’s stored in the kitchen. 

To guide you through, bear these essential reminders in mind.

  • Regular flour should last six to eight months past its printed date.
  • Rice flour tends to last for six to eight months past its printed date.
  • Corn flour lasts for up to 12 months past its printed date.
  • Potato flour lasts for up to eight months past its printed date. 
  • Whole wheat flour lasts for four to six months when kept properly. 
  • Self-rising flour tends to last for up to six months. 
  • Corn flour lasts for up to two years when stored properly. 
  • All-purpose flour has a shelf life of six to eight months in the pantry. You can extend it to a year by storing it in the fridge.

Can I use expired flour?

The answer is yes, you can use it past the expiration date but you need to inspect it first.. So what will happen if you’re using expired flour?

If you spot mold do not use the flour.

When you spot molds in it it can produce harmful chemicals known as mycotoxins. According to, moldy flour is likely to harm your health, and these mycotoxins can cause vomiting and diarrhea to the person who consumed it. 

So if your flour has no mold but it has expired, you can feel comfortable using. 
But if you see the fungus lingering in your flour, I advise you to throw it away. It’s better to be safe and cautious than to regret everything later.

Pro tip: To avoid mold growth, make sure to keep your flour away from moisture.

How to store flour

Keeping your flour at room temperature is safe as it’s considered a shelf-stable ingredient. 

If it’s unopened, leave it as is, but if you have already used some of it, you must place the remaining flour in an airtight container and keep it in a cool and dry place, preferably in the pantry. 

By doing this, you’ll be able to preserve the freshness of your flour as well as protect it from molds, dust, and moisture.

If you want to increase your flour’s shelf life, consider refrigerating or freezing it. But remember, ensure to keep the flour away from moisture and water to prevent mold growth. 

To avoid the possible dilemma, be sure to place it in an airtight container or plastic.

How to tell if flour has gone bad

Flour indeed has a long shelf life, but it doesn’t mean it’ll last forever. It’s important to know its condition before mixing it with your other ingredients to avoid possible predicaments like food poisoning. 

So how to tell if the flour has gone bad? It’s simple–by using your senses!

1. Sniff the flour

To know whether your stored flour is still safe to use, it’s best if you use your sense of smell. 

Open the flour container or bag and do a sniff test. If it smells musty or sour, this is a clear sign that it has reached its limit. So better throw it away!

Pro tip: Keep in mind that fresh flour has a neutral odor and doesn’t smell off.

2. Check the appearance

Another simple method to tell if your flour is already bad is to check its appearance. 

Typically, if your flour tends to look discolored, then you must consider discarding it immediately. 

And molds may appear if you let the flour get exposed to water or moisture. If that’s the case, throwing away the flour is also the best thing to do.

The bottom line

Storing your flour properly is one of the many ways to ensure its freshness. But in case you’re in doubt about that bag of flour in your kitchen pantry, look for the red flags! 

If you spot it having a discolored look or off smell, then it’s the right time to say goodbye and throw it into the bin!

Also, you need to watch out for those flour beetles, also known as weevils. These tiny bugs may linger into your flour or worse, they’ll be mixed with your ingredients. 

You don’t want that, do you? If your flour has signs of flour beetles, it’s best to sift the bugs out or throw the flour away. 

It’s your choice!